The effects of supplementation of the maternal diet of quail with three natural sources of carotenoids (alfalfa nutrient concentrate (PX agro (TM)), tomato powder and marigold extract) on the accumulation of retinol and retinyl esters in egg yolk and in the liver of the new hatchling and maternal were investigated. The present study showed that the vitamin A in quail egg yolk was present in 4 different forms, namely retinol (R 52-62%), retinyl linoleate (RL 9-11%), retinyl stearate (RS 4%), retinyl oleate (RO 11-15%) and retinyl palmitate (RP 13-22%). The retinyl ester profile of the liver of newly hatched quail (R 2-4%, RL 8-12%, RS 19-21%, RO 12-15%, RP 50-55%) differs from that of egg yolk but was similar to that of the liver of adult quail (R 1%, RL 5-6%, RS 21-28%, RO 9-12%, RP 54-63%). It has been shown that RO and RP concentrations in egg yolk and the liver of day old quail chick significantly increased as a result of carotenoid supplementation of the maternal diet. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.